A delightful new acquaintance of ours, soon to become a firm friend, settled in Haarlem in 2007 a block away from our home there. South African artist, Johan du Plooy, set to improving the rundown cottage he had bought, laying concrete floors, rewiring it and adding a bathroom. A man with green fingers, he soon had a flourishing vegetable patch going.
We could not wish for a better friend, knowing that if the tornado hit the manure, he’d be there to help. It gives me the feeling that I need to be worthy of that friendship, and likewise be the friend I’d like to earn.
Born 1939 in Rustenburg, Johan’s parents soon moved to Heidelberg where he was to complete his schooling. Art was not offered as a subject, but that was where Johan’s passion lay. At age 22, he began his studies at Central School of Art & Design, London, UK in 1962. He made use of the opportunity to travel and explore parts of Europe; Greece especially made a deep impression. It was six years before he made his way back to South Africa.
His sculptures were chiefly in indigenous woods and his paintings are mainly in oils, primarily representational, latterly evolving towards surrealism and abstract.
The largest piece of his life spent in one place was 22 years spent in Herbertsdale, southern Cape Province, where, for 12 of them, he was the Mayor of the town. He is proud of his involvement in various projects for the betterment of the poorer communities there, including the establishment of a profitable bakery.
From there he moved to Calitzdorp for some years, then, all too briefly to Haarlem, and now lives in Krakeelrivier where he is still hard at work at his easel.
If a man fails to keep pace with his companions perhaps it’s because he hears a different drum …Let him step to the drum he hears! – Henry David Thoreau.